July 25, 2021

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What happens if you are caught driving without insurance?

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Car insurance is mandatory in nearly every state. If you are caught driving without insurance, you can face fines, license suspension, registration suspension and even jail time.

Be sure to find an insurance policy right away if you own a car and are currently uninsured. Coverage can be expensive, but a lapse in coverage can be more expensive in the long run. Most drivers can find reasonable rates by shopping around and comparing quotes for car insurance online. Use the tool below to compare quotes from several of the best car insurance companies in your area.

In this article:

  • Is car insurance required?
  • State penalties for driving without insurance 
  • Minimum car insurance requirements by state
  • Our recommendations for car insurance
  • Our methodology
Is car insurance required?

Car insurance is required in every state with the exception of Virginia and New Hampshire. In these states, the car insurance requirement can be waived if you are able to provide proof of financial responsibility. This means that you have enough assets to pay for a certain amount of damage should you be sued after an accident that you cause.

Do I need insurance to drive someone else’s car?

Car insurance is tied to the vehicle, not the individual. This means that if you have permission to drive someone else’s car, that person’s insurance will cover any accident that may occur. If you live in the same household as the person whose car you borrow, you may need to be listed on that person’s insurance policy.

Do I need insurance for a rental car?

Most rental car companies provide the state minimum insurance with their rental vehicles. You are not required to purchase extra insurance, but it could be a good idea if you don’t already have coverage through your regular auto insurance policy (or another source like your credit card company).

State minimum requirements typically only include coverage for other parties’ damages after an accident you cause, not your own car. This means that you’ll be on the hook for repair or replacement costs for the rental if you don’t have extra insurance. Keep in mind that your personal auto policy still applies in most cases when you are driving a rental car.

State penalties for driving without insurance

The penalty for driving without insurance is different in each state. The table below describes penalties for first-time offenses by state. Some state governments will even imprison people for driving without insurance.

State Fine for First Offense Additional Penalties for First Offense  Jail Time
Alabama $500 Registration suspension until $200 reinstatement fee is paid None
Alaska $500 License suspension for 90 days None
Arizona $500 License and registration suspension for 90 days None
Arkansas $50 Registration suspension until $20 reinstatement fee is paid Up to one year
California $100 None None
Colorado $500 License suspension until proof of insurance is provided None
Connecticut $100 License and registration suspension for six months Up to five years
Delaware $1,500 License suspension for six months None
District of Columbia $150 License suspension for 30 days None
Florida $150 License and registration suspension up to three years None
Georgia $85 License and registration suspension for 60 days Up to one year
Hawaii $500 License suspension until proof of insurance is provided None
Idaho $75 None None
Illinois $500 License suspension up to three months None
Indiana $250 License suspension up to 90 days None
Iowa $250 None None
Kansas $300 License and registration suspension until proof of insurance is provided Up to six months
Kentucky $500 Registration suspension up to one year Up to 90 days
Louisiana $500 None None
Maine $100 License and registration suspension until proof of insurance is provided None
Maryland $1,000 None Up to one year
Massachusetts $500 License and registration suspension for 60 days Up to one year
Michigan $200 License suspension up to 30 days Up to one year
Minnesota $200 License and registration suspension up to 30 days None
Mississippi $500 License suspension up to one year None
Missouri $20 License suspension until proof of insurance is provided None
Montana $250 None None
Nebraska $100 License suspension until proof of insurance is provided None
Nevada $250 License suspension until proof of insurance is provided None
New Hampshire $125 License and registration suspension until proof of insurance is provided None
New Jersey $300 License suspension up to one year None
New Mexico $300 License and registration suspension until proof of insurance is provided Up to 90 days
New York $150 License and registration suspension until proof of insurance is provided Up to 15 days
North Carolina $50 License suspension until proof of insurance is provided None
North Dakota $150 License suspension until proof of insurance is provided None
Ohio Varies License suspension until proof of insurance is provided None
Oklahoma $250 License suspension until proof of insurance is provided Up to 30 days
Oregon $260 License and registration suspension until proof of insurance is provided None
Pennsylvania $300 License and registration suspension for three months None
Rhode Island $100 License and registration suspension for three months None
South Carolina $550 License suspension for 30 days None
South Dakota $100 License suspension up to one year Up to 30 days
Tennessee $25 License suspension until proof of insurance is provided None
Texas $175 None None
Utah $400 License suspension until proof of insurance is provided None
Vermont $250 License suspension until proof of insurance is provided None
Virginia $500 License suspension until proof of insurance is provided None
Washington $550 None None
West Virginia $200 License suspension up to 30 days Up to one year
Wisconsin $500 None None
Wyoming $250 License suspension until proof of insurance is provided Up to six months

Fines and penalties for subsequent offenses can be higher and include additional jail time in some states. There are also often reinstatement fees to be paid to get your license and registration re-validated.

Minimum car insurance requirements by state

As with penalties for driving without insurance, car insurance requirements vary by state. Some require very little coverage, while others require more comprehensive policies.

The most common types of required insurance coverage are bodily injury liability, property damage liability, personal injury protection (PIP) and uninsured motorist coverage.

Liability car insurance limits are often written as a series of three numbers, which represent the limits for each type of coverage. For example, liability limits for car insurance in Texas may be written as 30/60/25. This means that the state requires drivers to hold at least:

  • $30,000 in bodily injury liability coverage per person
  • $60,000 in bodily injury liability coverage per accident
  • $25,000 in property damage liability coverage per accident

If you want cheap car insurance, you may consider only purchasing your state’s minimum required coverage. However, keep in mind that if an accident you cause results in damage that exceeds these limits, you’ll have to pay the difference out of pocket. Also, liability insurance only covers other parties’ damaged property and medical bills. If you want coverage for your own vehicle, you’ll need to buy collision insurance.

Our recommendations for car insurance

If you’re in the market for a new insurance policy, you’ll want to secure the best possible rates. Because car insurance costs can vary by individual, there is no single best provider for every driver. That’s why the only way to find the right policy for you is to shop around and compare offers. Use the tool below to compare free car insurance quotes from several top providers in your area.

Geico: Best Overall

Geico is one of the best-known insurers in the country, and for good reason. The company offers competitive rates paired with high-quality service. Geico has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and scored well in all regions in the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Auto Insurance Satisfaction StudySM.

Geico offers the six standard types of auto insurance, which include liability, collision, comprehensive, uninsured/underinsured motorist, medical payments and personal injury protection. Additionally, Geico offers the following add-on coverage options:

  • Emergency roadside service
  • Rental car reimbursement
  • Mechanical breakdown insurance
  • Rideshare insurance
Progressive: Best for High-Risk Drivers

Progressive is another well-known provider. While it doesn’t have quite the customer service reputation that Geico does, it is still a good choice for many drivers. Drivers with a history of traffic violations or a DUI on record typically see higher rates from insurers, but according to our cost research, Progressive offers good rates for high-risk drivers.

In addition to the standard types of auto insurance, Progressive offers:

  • Emergency roadside assistance
  • Rental car reimbursement
  • Loan/lease payoff (also called gap insurance)
  • Custom parts and equipment value coverage
  • Rideshare insurance
Our methodology

Because consumers rely on us to provide objective and accurate information, we created a comprehensive rating system to formulate our rankings of the best car insurance companies. We collected data on dozens of auto insurance providers to grade the companies on a wide range of ranking factors. The end result was an overall rating for each provider, with the insurers that scored the most points topping the list.

Here are the factors our ratings take into account:

  • Reputation: Our research team considered market share, ratings from industry experts and years in business when giving this score.
  • Availability: Auto insurance companies with greater state availability and few eligibility requirements scored highest in this category.
  • Coverage: Companies that offer a variety of choices for insurance coverage are more likely to meet consumer needs.
  • Cost: Average auto insurance rates and discount opportunities were both taken into consideration.
  • Customer Experience: This score is based on volume of complaints reported by the NAIC and customer satisfaction ratings reported by J.D. Power. We also considered the responsiveness, friendliness and helpfulness of each insurance company’s customer service team based on our own shopper analysis.

*Data accurate at time of publication.

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